Out & About: Watch, Discuss Films With the Movie Lovers Group

  • Lou Maresca is cofounder of the Movie Lovers Group. (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Correspondent
Monday, September 03, 2018

If there’s anything Lou Maresca enjoys as much as a good movie, it’s a good conversation. The Movie Lovers Group, which Maresca co-founded three years ago, handily combines both. 

Members of the group meet several times a month to watch movies — everything from independent films to Hollywood blockbusters — and then proceed to discuss them over dinner or a glass of wine.

Maresca, who lives in West Lebanon and runs a teaching and tutoring business, has no formal film studies background but describes himself as an “avid cinema fan.” Although streaming services and other forms of on-demand viewing have taken a toll on movie theater attendance in recent years, “I’m not one of the people the industry has to worry about,” Maresca said. “I still adore going to the movies.”

In an email Q&A, Maresca discussed details of the Movie Lovers Group and how they decide what to see, and also talked about his favorite films and genres. The exchange has been edited for length and clarity.

Question: How and when did the Movie Lovers Group get started?

 Answer: The Movie Lovers Group (MLG) was born right in the parking lot of the Lowe Theater in Hanover on Sunday, July 26, 2015. I had gone to a Dartmouth Film Society movie with a friend, Kathy McKee-Stern [of Wilder] (sadly departed in 2016 at age 83), and afterward Christine Flanagan [of Lebanon] came up to us and asked how we liked the movie.

I’d never met her before in my life, but we stood there for 20 to 30 minutes talking. After that, I called a bunch of my friends and asked them to join us, and it grew from there.

Q: How often do you get together?

A: Our regular outing each month is on the second Thursday. We usually go to a movie at the Nugget Theaters, or sometimes at the Miracle Mile Theater in Lebanon.

Equally important, we go to perhaps two to four other movies each month. These can be Dartmouth Film Society movies, other movies at the Nugget, specials such as the White River Indie Festival, and of course, we go to Telluride at Dartmouth each year.

Most months, we also have a "Fourth Friday" movie. This is really fun in that it's usually at my home. We all pick the movie together, relax, have some wine perhaps. And it is, of course, free.

Q: What are some of the movies you’ve seen as a group so far?

A: Some prominent examples are, in no particular order: Dunkirk, Darkest Hour,The Girl on the Train, The Zookeeper’s Wife, Lion, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing,Missouri, Hearts Beat Loud, and Crazy Rich Asians (just recently).

Q: How do you decide which movies the group goes to see?

A: I send out an email about a week or so before the second Thursday. Then members write in and vote on their choice of the two listed. On other nights, anyone in the group can suggest any movie at any time. Various subgroups of members go to different movies.

Q: What film genres do members lean toward? Are there any you avoid?

A: The movies vary considerably, as they should, and the genres run the gamut from World War II movies (a number of us "enjoy" these, as we are quite interested in World War II), to romantic comedies to dramas and some documentaries. I'd have to say that horror films are the only genre that we avoid, as a rule.

Q: How many people come to a typical screening?

A: This will vary. Usually between six and 10 or so for the second Thursday. For "off-night" dates (often my favorite nights out), the number will vary from three to eight.

Q: Where do you like to go for dinner and discussion afterward?

A: For the regular second Thursday movies, almost all the time we go to Molly's, right in Hanover. You can always get a table on a Thursday night at Molly’s. 

Q: Do you talk mainly about the film, or does the conversation range?

A: We of course talk about the movie, but we also just talk: about our lives, our travels and so much more. After a recent movie, the conversation ranged from the movie to Peru in the World Cup, to Anne Frank and World War II.

I think all of us would agree that, although we go to see quality movies, the best part of each evening together is the time when we are breaking bread and talking about so many different topics.

Q: What are your top five favorite movies of all time?

A: Very difficult question! Of the 1,000-plus movies I have seen, and perhaps 50 that I'd give five-star ratings to, I'll say these (not in any order): The Deer Hunter, Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, It Could Happen to You, and Saving Private Ryan.

Q: How does one become a member of the MLG?

A: Anyone can attend a movie as a guest. A soon as they attend two movies with the group, they are added to either the email list or the Facebook group list, or both, if they prefer. There are no dues or fees of any kind.

Editor’s Note: Those interested in joining the Movie Lovers Group may call Maresca at 603-643-3609 anytime between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., or email him at stattip@aol.com (with the understanding that part of the conversation will be by phone).